Tick bite prevention

This page offers information about the prevention of ticks and tick bites.

Avoiding contact with ticks

Preventing tick bites starts with avoiding contact with ticks. Of course one could avoid all areas with ticks, but all long as one stays on the (paved) paths, and doesn't come into contact with grasses, shrubs, trees, etc., then the chance of a tick bite is probably very small.

Wearing clothes that cover your body

When one does come into contact with grasses, shrubs, trees, etc., then it is recommended to wear clothes that cover the body, arms and legs fully, and leave no openings, by tucking the pants into the socks and wearing a hat. This way at least direct contact with ticks is prevented.

Anti-tick remedies

There are several anti-tick remedies, that (supposedly) ward off ticks:
• Permethrin: this is a chemical with which one can impregnate clothes; it must NOT be applied to the skin. Permethrin kills ticks that come into contact with treated clothes.
• DEET: this is an insect repellent, specifically a mosquito repellent, that can be applied to the skin. Supposedly it also repels ticks, although some people question its effectivity. DEET is available in various forms including as a lotion, cream, gel, stick, and a spray.
• Garlic: supposedly garlic is also keeping ticks at a distance. Supposedly eating garlic would be effective, as well as creating a natural tick spray based on garlic, which could be used on the skin or in the garden.

Checking the body for ticks

After being potentially in contact with ticks (for example after being in an area with ticks) is it advised to check the body for the presence of ticks. This still can't prevent all tick bites, because ticks can be very small and can be overlooked. Especially the larvae en nymphs (young little ticks), which can be smaller than a millimeter.

Ticks typically don't bite immediately, but look for a spot of their preference. The tick can climb up via the legs of a person and has a preference for warm, moist spots. Therefore the tick often settles in skin folds, like armpits, groin, back of knees, behind or in an ear. But a tick can also just settle on an arm, leg or on the torso.

Ticks don't fall out of trees

According to tick experts ticks don't let themselves drop out of trees when a person or animal passes by. A tick typically stays lower than 1 meter above the ground in grasses, shrubs, trees, etc. and can't jump or fly. Still some people report that a tick fell on them, especially because the tick was found on your head, but this is probably a misconception.

However, a tick could get on the head for example when one is bending for a low-hanging branch or when one is playing with a ball and picking up the ball from bushes or tall grass. Also, it is possible that a tick climbs via a leg all up to the head.

For children the advise to wear a hat is all the more important, because of their smaller length and playful behavior, like going off the track. Children indeed are more likely than adults to have a tick bite on the head.

Pets and tick bites

Furthermore, dogs and cats often have tick bites, especially when one is living in an area with lots of ticks. Also, a cat of dog can take ticks (attached or unattached) with them into the house, so that there is even a risk for humans to get a tick bite indoors.